There are two possible roles that the law can fulfill: protecting the weak from being exploited, or protecting the exploitation of the weak. In the first case it works for the interests of the poor, in the second case for the interests of the rich.

In the case of employment, trade unions successfully fought to implement laws that prohibit the most severe cases of exploitation. Namely, physical exploitation. What remains is financial exploitation: the ratio of annual wage to yearly gain per employee is mostly far below 1, meaning people do not at all get what their work is worth just because the company owners (or investors) have the right to the company’s organizational “shell” and market power – though that was built up with the labour of employees also!

In the case of self-employment where well-defined customer relations exist that are regulated by law, exploitation is also not much of a problem. Probably less of a problem that in the case of employees, who still suffer from financial exploitation. This includes for example companies like a doctor’s surgery, a pysical retail shop, a web shop, a cab company, a small manufacturer, being a hirer, and all craftsmen and other people who are paid by time. Among them are also freelancers who got a high reputation by some means, and can now demand being paid by time.

Now the problem is the case of the self-employed freelancer. There are no laws that protect him (or her) from even physical exploitation. The freelancer mostly has to give fixed-price offers, and the full risk of miscalculation is his. There is no minimum wage guaranteed by law – and this can drive him out of business. The problem is that a freelancer is in the economically weaker position: he has to fulfill obligations before getting paid, and needs the payment to exist. This seems to be a hole in the law system: for every other economically weaker party, the state created laws (like for tenants, employees etc.), but the freelancer has to negotiate his own rights though being in the weaker position. Bold freelancers can succeed here, but many others fail. It is also no solution to set up very rigid contracts with customers, ideally payment by time; as customers simply would not accept that as they are themselves often forced by their situation to avoid such high risks. And the state does not do something about this except calling it “precarious occupation”. The best thing is leaving this business area as fast as possible …

Looking at the other side of the scale, there are many laws protecting “possession”, and laws that implement rights so that possession generates more possession (the fact that interest rates are not forbidden etc.). Also, politiciany are currently (2008-2010) very eager to minimize the risk of investors by state-based guarantees that their loans plus interests are going to be paid back (see e.g. the Greece sovereign debt crisis). All these are laws that protect and increase the means of the rich (investors, people with a private or passive income etc..). Sad but true, this seems to make up the majority of the German laws, its primary intention.

Summary: I now see that law (or: a legal system) can be a good thing, because it can prohibit people to exploit each other (meaning, the stronger exploiting the weaker ones). Strict legislation and well-defined rights make it possible for people to get along with each other in a large society, even though you do not know the people you interact with personally. So even though you cannot trust the people you interact with, law makes meaningful interaction possible nonetheless because it guarantees you meaningful rights in the case the other party should try to exploit you. In the case of Germany, there are many good aspects where the legal system fulfills this role; but there are also many holes (see above), and many things where overcomplication makes law effectively unapplicable (e.g. through high process costs that you have to pay yourself if you win but the other party has no money).

My more visionary solution is however this: to live in a resilient, autarkic community of trustable people. Within it, very little laws are needed (just about getting and losing membership, and a daily time of “community work” for everybody). And in the external relations, no protective laws at all are needed: the community is autarkic, so is never in the weaker (exploitable) position because it needs nobody from outside. It would for example accept no fixed-price contracts, but demand getting paid by time. If customers do not want this: no problem, the community does not need customers.

There is another side to the medal of law-regulated protection from exploitation: this normally makes it possible for the protected “weak” persons to exploit the state that protects them, by drawing its welfare finances etc. without need, and without motivation to repay by working at ones maintainable capacity. We have such a free rider problem in the German welfare system, clearly. It simply means the waste of resources that are there: the workforce of unemployed but unmotivated workers etc.. (Note that the “free rider” designation is not applied here to the motivated unemployed – exactly those are what the state should be proud to protect from economic calamity by simply not finding a job.) So liberals are clearly right by saying that there is a free rider problem and that it has to be solved; but it does not get solved by the neo-liberal, laissez-faire, capitalist style of economy, as this effectively cancels also all the valuable protection of the weak just becaus of the free rider problem. Which is clearly an overreaction. But still, leftist people, Keynesian economists etc. need to find an answer for the free rider problem within their proposals – or their proposed system is not long-term maintainable. We should look at Scandinavic models for economy how this might be possible. If taxes would be guaranteed to be used efficiently (!) for the good of all (!), why not pay higher taxes? They would come back immediately or mediately (less crime, better educated employees etc.) to oneself. We have only a problem, therefore, in a state that is incompetent to use its tax money that way. See for a discussion of this and related problems: Wikipedia on the New Deal, and this ZEIT article.

Lifestyle is equivalent with personal culture, which is one instance of a culture. People with lifestyles that deviate from the surrounding culture of any known group in a large degree can be said to have a “unique culture”: just as unique as the culture of an ethnic group, for example.

Now the problem with having a unique personal culture is interoperability with other people: you will be a foreigner to them though you share their origin. However, if you have been intelligent enough to develop your own culture, you can also develop a social “compatibility mode”, which means talking and behaving with automated translation between their culture and yours. However, you will still not get rid of the impression that this is quite a lonely way of being, except if you find people who developed their own off-center personal culture in a direction that has sufficient overlap with yours, so that you can know each other without compatibility mode …

I know what I’m talking about. My personal culture differs quite widely from that of others in these areas: personal accomodation; my job; nutrition; theology; knowledge management; software environment; personal equipment; language use. And also music, poetry, gaming and movies, if you count my total non-interest in these topics as a cultural attribute of its own.

During the last week I learned two important things. First, real desperation is one of the worst imaginable conditions. (To the extent that I speculate: being stuck in desperation forever could be said to be “in hell”.) Second: thinkers are more prone to fall into desperation, but there are learnable mental management techniques to guard them.

The problem that thinkers face is this. As thinkers, they are inclined to solve unsolved questions, and most are also inclined to constantly think about their own lives (what to do next, how to lead a meaningful life, how to make the best decisions, …). Now a thinker might come into a desperate life situation (which could be defined as a calamitous situation that has no way to end except by living through it for its full normal duration). Such a situation poses a question that cannot be solved, namely, how to end it more quickly. Which means that the thinker person will think about it without finding a solution, and keep thinking about it. The other reason to think about it is the thinker’s habit to think about his or her own life; again finding no constructive quicker way out, keeping thinking on it.

Now the constant thinking about a desperate life situation causes despair. Which seems to be a psychological mechanism: keep thinking some thoughts for long enough, and they will become a “self-reinforcing” set of thoughts. After they did, you cannot simply stop thinking them (because you won’t get the idea to do): these thoughts think themselves on and on, as one thought triggers another (and more than one) of the same style. External events (like a phone call from a friend, a day of intensive work, some hours of sports) do normally break such self-reinforcing thought cycles, but thinkers often have less of such events, and those that are present might be too weak to break the cycle, as intensive and long thinking, and the time they already exist, created very forceful thought cycles. If the strength of these thought cycles is above some threshold so that the individual cannot help itself out of them, this is called “depression”. Sorry about this lay experience-based psychology … I have no better words or theory for that currently.

Now thinkers normally assume that their desperate emotions (in its extreme, depression) are simply a result of the desperate situation they are in, and see no reason to stop thinking about that situation. They might even intensify that, to finally find the solution and make their way out. However: their too much thinking about their desperate situation is what causes their desperate emotions. That is the central insight in this blog post.

Once a thinker did grasp that insight, several pragmatic rules and tips for thinking follow from that with ease:

  • Think about the next step to go, and focus on it. Even if you have 100 steps to go until your desperate situation is finished, the next step only is what can motivate, because it is reasonably small.
  • Place a nice activity after the next step, to support its motivating power.
  • Also do focus on the even smaller detail steps in your work: to get these done does also motivate, and motivation is good for mental well-being. This is even true if these detail steps are part of your desperate situation, in that they do not have the intended good effects (like earning you money or what else you need). Getting a step finished is a motivating thing in itself, even if taht step has very little meaning in a broader context; that seems to be a mechanism of psychology which can be leveraged here.
  • Get “consumed” by the work you must do, for some hours, by keeping the mental focus on the work itself, not on the “meta layer” that tells you why this work is nonsense and having to do it means your life is deperate. Because, concentration on an activity keeps you from thinking these desperate meta-level thoughts, and not thinking desperate thoughts is key to the mental management of desperation.
  • You are “safely allowed” to think about your desperate life situation, but only for some moments to draw some logical conclusions; do not think about this stuff so long that a self-reinforcing thought cycle is started. The first warning sign seems to be: if these thought start to affect your emotions, stop thinking them for the time being.
  • You can experiment with various means of distraction to keep you from starting to think unhealthy stuff again. This can include listening to music while working, doing sports, doing activities that consume all the concentration, socializing with people, etc..
  • Remember, desperation is a mental state, not a physical.

So one has to manage ones own thought life to stay mentally healthy. Which is an observation with various implications:

  • There is a limits to rationality, in the amount of rational thinking that a human being can bear. Rational thinking does not happen in free space, but in the “human ecosystem”; and because of psychological mechanisms, rational thinking does affect emotions, as does every kind of thinking. Which means that rational thinking has non-rational side effects, and to prevent unhealthy side effects, there is a pragmatic preemptive limit to rational thinking. There is also a factual limit: if you allow your rational thinking to drive you to deepest despair, you deprived yourself of the ability of rational thinking. Because despair is a precondition that taints and prohibits truly rational thinking.
  • Many people need to start thinking, not stop it. Thinkers are a small minority. Most people are not endangered by depression due to thinking too much about their life situation. They are more shallow-minded people, and unconsciously engage in many activities that keep them away from thinking about their life situation: they engage in short-term “fun” activities like socializing with people, making flat and bromidic jokes, taking drugs etc.. All of which also influences the relationship between desperate facts and emotions as advised here, but before these people even started to realize the desperate facts. They might have nothing more than a vague idea of it. Those people rather need to start thinking, because there are many non-desperate situations about which something can and must be done, and this they miss at the same time. They must start to think about not knowing the meaning of their life (including, not knowing where they do come from: their Creator); they must start to think about the lack of deep, authentic community with people in their life, their excessive loneliness.
  • Can mental management techniques be compared to substance abuse? I would argue, no. It is true that both influence the way how facts affect emotions, detaching emotions from facts in some way. Substance abuse is frowned because of its unhealthy short-term and long-term side effects; in spite of that, some of the same substances are used for medical purposes like palliative medicine. In analogy, I would compare mental management techniques to the carefully considered use of medicine. While the same techniques can also be used to totally numb the desire to think rationally about ones own life, as is the case with distraction techniques in people who need to start thinking yet (see above). Just as palliative analgesic like morphine relieve of unnecessary bodily pain, the “medical” use of mental management relieves of unnecessary mental pain. And just as a certain amount of pain is needed to guard the body against injuries, a certain amount of mental pain is needed to move out of calamitous and meaningless life situations. Do not use mental management techniques to kill that “good mental pain”; just to prohibit unhealthy self-reinforcing thought cycles. Also, be always aware that you are on some kind of “mental medication”; as only that awareness makes it possible to stay emotionally authentic.
  • Why is mental management not taught anywhere? This should be a field of deeper research, and then a part of general education. There is physical education in school, which is about learning how to deal with ones own body. Why is there not mental education?
  • The narrow Christian viewpoint towards such depressive thinking should be rethought. That viewpoint is mostly some variation of: bad emotions are a result of “egoistic, self-centered” (and hence sinful) thinking and that the solution would be to “give it to Jesus”, to “focus ones thoughts on Jesus” and the like. This does indeed help on many occasions (as people stop extensive thinking about a personal desperate situation), but both the diagnosis and the therapy seem to be screwed up. The diagnosis is wrong because it is the wrong explanation: this problem is not about “sinful” behavior, but about doing a right thing in unhealthy amounts. The therapy is wrong because it does not relate to the real problem, which is “how to deal with desperate situations”. While it is always a good idea to pray about a situation, and also pray for help, there seems to be no general promise of relief of the calamitous facts. And the content of the “Jesus-focused thoughts” does not help here either: it’s about the hope of resurrection and a happy afterlife, but that is a quite abstract, long-term hope that does not relate to the struggles with daily calamities. So, focusing ones thoughts on Jesus is just another method of distraction here (and is effective as such, but just as effective as other methods). There seems to be no factual reason for criminalizing mental despair as “sin” in Christianity. To the contrary, there is some advice given by Paul to slaves in NT times, which comes close to this “don’t think abut it much, don’t let it bother you” solution we presented here: “Were you a slave when you were called? Do not let that bother [lit.: be of interest to; annotation] you. Of course, if you have a chance to become free, take advantage of the opportunity. For the slave who has been called in the Lord is the Lord’s free person. In the same way, the free person who has been called is Christ’s slave.” (1 Cor 7:21-22 ISV).

Now this is quite a personal post, but just as a side effect; I hope it helps some thinkers who struggle with desperation while thinking abut desperate situations.

I just read an insightful comment on

Traditional fascism demands order and submission; modern fascism flatters the individuals, furthers the illusion of freedom and self-determination and controls the people mostly nonviolently by conditioning them.
(Tina, comment #111 on “Geht’s noch tiefer” on; translation by me)

Why do I post this? I think I got ensnared by this conditioning “new fascism”. My last two years have been about money (working as a freelancer). And the longer this goes, the more about money, and the less about real life. I feel that it makes me dumb, non-creative, conformistic, … . A major sign of this is that this blog has been quiet for so long … “no time to think about life, too busy living”. Huh? Stop this …

One of the most difficult tasks on earth is, how to communicate emotions between human beings as exactly as possible. So that the receiver gets the message (the emotion) as close as possible to the one intended by the sender.

People say, music is a means for communicating emotions. This is partially true, but music can just communicate an emotion without its semantic context; which is a vague, undifferentiated emotion, and one without meaning.

Good poems are another means, but you have to concentrate on it to get the intended emotion. Which makes them useless if you are in a mood unable or unwilling to concentrate. Also, poems create just an “image of an emotion”, by far weaker than what the sender felt.

However, if one adds more media to these options, this adds much more possibilities for communicating emotions. The full possibilities are at hand when adding motion pictures (our richest medium) to music, that is, when creating movie clips.

Movie clips have the added advantage that they can communicate emotions nearly independent of the receiver’s emotional situation … the medium is strong enough to get through all your current emotions, and you may just stay passive. Of course, one has to take great care not to get used to movies that much that they lose this force; which they did already for probably > 90% of the population in modern societies.

Another caveat: the sender must not employ kitsch; which is everything where he presents an emotion that the receiver should also feel. This strategy has lost its force for nearly everybody now, and also produces only “kitschy” (undifferentiated) emotions. An emotion is more than its expression! Therefore, instead of the emotion, the situation should be depicted that triggers it. And of course, depicting emotions includes every blunt, flat means to trigger emotions, which may be also some sorts of colors, symbols (heart, …), images and music; it’s not just about the depiction of human emotion.

Now, how ’bout some examples. I searched YouTube for over two hours now and, sad enough, I found not one example for what I mean here. All this a highly symbolic, kitschy, graphic depiction of what they mean … I’m unable to feel with them.

However, here are the clips that get at least to 10% of what I mean … perhaps you get a clue. In descending order of “emotional communication quality”, some music clips:

  1. Söhne Mannheims – Vielleicht (probably the only video blogged twice in this blog)
  2. Glashaus – Haltet die Welt an (on somebody dying)
  3. Silbermond – Ich bereue nichts (also on somebody dying)
  4. Söhne Mannheims – Kraft unseres Amtes
  5. Eisblume – Leben ist schön
  6. Söhne Mannheims – IZ ON
  7. Silbermond – Krieger des Lichts

Observation: adults (people above 20) do not change in character normally. Even worse, they also do not change in qualification. They finished their formal education, which set the direction, and until their death, they normally keep going in that direction. But without change, there is no hope.

What’s the reason for this alarming static condition of adults? First, they do not have relationships that are intensive enough to forge character. A child has this kind of “overwhelming” relationships in its family, and cannot escape. This also makes a child vulnerable to emotional abuse, but enables also imprinting positive, constructive values into the character. Adults however can and do leave their partners and children if it gets difficult, and can mentally block the imprinting-capability of situations. Second, many adults never learned to learn by themselves, and thus cannot change by self-education.

The effects are disastrous. Some people are even stuck in misery, where they lack and cannot acquire the social, technical and medical qualifications to take part in daily life. Nobody will teach them: in the stressful life of modern societies, people who could teach this don’t have the time for it (it takes years) or don’t deal at all with these people, and official institutions fail because only short “therapies” can be paid, but not the long-term teaching. And all the other people who were happy enough to acquire the qualifications for daily life: they also cannot change, which means they live way below their potential. They have to earn money to live, and this leaves no time to really learn from friends, or to teach friends. If we take the common term “individual fulfillment” to mean that everybody can live up to his full potential, including the full potential to serve others, then this is a good thing. But impossible in our loosely coupled, stressful societies. These societies chose to chase “material fulfillment” instead, and this causes much of this stress and de-socialization.

Can all this be any different? Why not? First, we need some (4-12) people with the insight that they need to and want to change in character and qualifications. These might be possible to find in a Christian church, as Christianity teaches just this need for personal change. Then, these people would set up a system of semi-formal mutual education. For a start, meeting on two afternoons a week, each time to learn about something different, both in theory and practice. But because 80% of actual learning happens when applying the learned theoretical concepts, it would be way better to form a kind of “educational community”. Where it is clear at all times what each one wants to learn, and people help each other to do so in the moment-by-moment flow of daily life. Also, building ones personal technical equipment would be a common task in such a setting, making it much more fun.

I’d love to live 3-5 years in such a community. It even could become a rewarding life task if this can be set up as a divide-and-multiply system in developing countries, dedicated to educating young native people towards serving their country. Of course, I’d also like to learn a lot of stuff myself: moral courage, martial arts, running, climbing and other sports, experiencing God, communicating about God, basic medical qualifications, survival techniques, dancing, truck mechanics, marketing etc..

Anybody likes to join? 😉

What is meaning?

Meaning is the role assigned to entities and events by their factual context. Example: an old man is lying on the street; in context New Delhi, zero meaning is assigned to him; in context Western Europe, normally at least enough to get him treated in a hospital.

The relevant factual context can be invisible. Example: The old man from above is treated differently in part because of the different cultural context. Which consists of habits, values etc., all of which are invisible per se.

The meaning assigned by the context can have a delayed effect. Example: A police system cannot prevent crimes, but it assigns meaning and importance to them, in many cases leading to sentences long after the crime was committed.

The meaning of something may affect the way we treat it, and our motivations what to do with it. Example: somebody hands you a hard disk with highly valuable data, of which no backup exists, to store it for a while. With that meaning in mind, you will treat it differently than a defective and empty hard disk, though they are physically the same. Note that our perception of meaning affects our actions and feelings, not the meaning itself: the message that the disk contains highly valuable data might be a lie, but this does not affect your behavior if you believe it to be true. Let’s say that our actions and feelings are “adequate”, if they follow a perception of meaning that is adequate to the actual facts.

If an entity’s or event’s context assigns no role to it, it is said to be “meaningless”. Something meaningless has no importance for anything in its context, so can be removed, or exchanged by any other meaningless thing, without any effect on the context. In analogy, something can be meaningless also for just a part of its context. Example: the exact position of one single grain of dust on the floor is meaningless; in contrast to the collective position of all of them: people would be happy if this position would be inside their dustbin always.

Meaning is leveled by context level. Each entity and event can be thought to belong to multiple contexts, leveled like an onion into narrower and broader levels of context. Each level can assign a different meaning to something. Example: a single person’s life might be meaningful on the individual level, because she might be a mother with children to care for. On the level of the universe, if evolution is true, mankind is meaningless, including her and all her children.

The meaning assigned to something by the broadest possible context is called here “substantial meaning”.

Meaning could be defined as a non-material, informational quantity that affects the future of things to which it is assigned. Example: if a cow lives on a farm, its final meaning is to be eaten by humans, which affects its future, because it will be slaughtered one day. From this follows: if the future of something is influenced by chance only, it has no meaning (at the context level currently treated).

If life has meaning

So if evolution is true, people can create meaning by themselves on the “local” context levels, but need to accept that all this is rendered meaningless on the level of the universe. Depending on a person’s current mindset (“philosopher or party animal”), the thought to have zero substantial meaning will cause depression, or the attempt to mute such thoughts by excessive fun, drugs and the like.

If however evolution is wrong, things look very different. I will not discuss the evolution hypothesis here, or the question whether there is a God. I am currently just discussing the effects of answers to that question (which should, of course, not affect your answer).

So, for the rest of the article, let’s assume one has answered the basic questions of life so that a fundamental belief in God emerged from that. This makes one also think that human existence on earth has meaning; namely: man is created in the image of and for eternal communion with God, and for stewardship over the rest of God’s creation; because of the moral failure of mankind, he needs reconciliation through Jesus Christ first to live up to this meaning / role. With respect to this, the meaning can be summarized as: There is a great God, who loves us that much that he goes to great lengths, even so that Jesus Christ died for us so that we can now be under his grace eternally. To exist is always worthwhile because of having a great God: it is the guarantee that life will never be too bad, and on long-term average, really good.

This kind of belief might be able or not to rely on visible experiences that support it. This may change from time to time, but say there is currently no such support. If one indeed beliefs this, the belief has nonetheless effects on the human mind, and if the belief is true, these effects are all justified.

These effects can amount to turning the mind upside down, to an extent that psychotropic drugs cannot reach, and without their adverse effects. They can, for example, eliminate depression. The effects of assuming this substantial meaning of human life can be: joy, patience, love, hope etc. – things named “the fruit of the spirit”.

In effect, we have a highly interesting situation. The mind (and by it, values, behavior and life) is totally changed just by having meaning, without any factual changes!!! And, even more interesting, this totally justified. The Christian belief in meaning is no  psychological crutch, but it is living in the light of a bright future, living adequately according to the believed (invisible) facts. Yes, the Christian belief has its effect on the mind by psychodynamic principles, but justifiably so, if the believed things are facts. And, also highly interesting, if one can derive a positive life feeling from the meaning inherent in the Christian faith, one practically ceases to need the immediate, supernatural help of God to survive in this world. Ones life has meaning (and therefore joy, hope etc.) with and without God’s immediate help, by the facts that are true about God.

It simply cannot be that bad

Now the assumed meaning is a quite general one, and even does not let one expect visible confirmation and visible improvements while living on earth. So it is an “art” to have ones mind adequately affected by this meaning, because the meaning itself is not an overwhelming force (its nonphysical after all). This art might be called the “art of believing”. Many Christians are not good at it, living without hope. Here are some hints that might help:

  • If someone believes that human life has meaning, and can justify that on fact level, he is justified to actively shape his emotions etc. in conformance with that. He may first train to shape his emotions by his will, by deciding what mood to exhibit in what situation. Then, he may train to have emotions that are adequate to his believed meaning of life.
  • Living “in the light of this meaning” is basically another view on the same life. Christian are, in their life on earth, quite as good or as bad off as all the other people (except for having the church, the visible part of God’s kingdom). But instead of assuming
    that most on earth is horrible and bad, the fact that Christians believe to have a great God makes them assume there are still many good things to find in his fallen creation. Also, they assume they will never be alone, and that God will come and help them immediately if it really gets too bad. It makes them assume life is basically manageable without stress. Which allows them to truly rest, and approach life from that position. There are also other helpful effects on the mind, like hope and fresh motivation; these effects remove stress, and help people to perform better in life. These improvements, then, can make life indeed as good as one views it. But this is no self-fulfilling prophecy, it is a hypothesis that was tested by building upon it. Assuming
    life to be horrible and bad is a self-fulfilling prophecy, however. Pessimism cannot fail because lack can be created by waiving everything and every chance.
  • Meaning not only affects the individual mind: the effect on many minds are an effect on society. In the case of the Christian faith, the effect on social level is the creation of the Christian brotherhood: the church, the Kingdom of God on earth. While this does not necessarily involve God’s supernatural activity, it is a visible effect of the meaning one believes in, and will make it easier for the individual to derive hope from that meaning, because there is already something visible good to enjoy.
  • One should better say “Christians should not live as if they had no meaning in life” than “as if they had no hope”, as today’s  word “hope” always implies to hope things will be better soon. While the Christian hope is, things are better in heaven. This Christian hope is an effect of the Christian’s believed meaning of human life, but as a hope for the far future it does not help much in daily life. Other effects of that meaning do, however, as detailed here. But: the Christian hope for heaven helps when experiencing calamities on earth. According to Paul (in Romans), such calamities are of no weight when views in the light of this bright heavenly future.
  • A good part of the secret is to see that the meaning in Christian faith assigns importance to everything we do. Which can grant motivation to decide and act the right way. For example, decisions have a moral importance because there is a moral God. Also, creative activity is meaningful and enjoyable because it is the image of God’s creativity.
  • Finally, if there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ, this makes it meaningful to thank God for this, and to live a basically joyful life because nothing can ever destroy ones bright future in heaven.

Beware of circular arguments

So after all, the only question necessary to answer is this: Is the Christian hope justified, is it true? You need to know for sure, as you will derive all  meaning in life from that, and base all your attitudes and behavior on that meaning, and will do so contrary to everything you see (in the sense that what you hope for is totally invisible). History and the Bible (embedded and confirmed by traditions) and the search for contemporary signs of God’s activity, and also personal experiences, may all be used to decide this, and people use different approaches.

One caveat: it is unjustified to believe that something is true “because it is then possible to derive hope (and joy, patience, …) from the meaning coming from that belief”. This circular argument cannot be employed here. The positive meaning for life resulting from the belief in a great God is a great psychological help, but this fact must not motivate us to believe in God. Also, meaning must be allowed to unfold itself (to have its natural effects); if forcing that by expecting psychological help from that meaning, we will quickly postulate effects of that meaning but later cannot sustain that. So instead of saying what effects the meaning should have, better let it have these effects in your life itself, by thinking of your great God in many situations, and letting that knowledge affect your behavior, values and emotions in all these situations.